By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi will kick off his three-day debut visit to China starting Aug.28.
"This will be President Morsi's first visit to China since taking office, and China attaches great importance to it," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement late Wednesday.
China and Egypt will sign cooperation agreements and discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest, Hong Lei said, without giving details.
Trade between the two countries totaled $8.8 billion last year, up 40 per cent from 2008, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Commerce.
From China, Morsi will travel to Tehran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit.
Morsi will attend the UN General Assembly session in New York on 23 September, and then visit senior US officials in Washington, Egyptian state media on Wednesday quoted his spokesperson as saying.
Be that as it may, Morsi’s outreach to China still frays the nerves of Washington, as it fears that Cairo's burgeoning rapprochement with Beijing would somewhat downgrade its ties with the West, and its close ally Israel.
Further, Morsi's effort to recalibrate Egypt's foreign policy orientation away from the West is also based on pragmatic thinking. Through cooperation with China, Egypt would see obvious advantages in diversifying its sources of assistance.
At the most basic level, China's foreign policy is based on “non-interference with others’ internal affairs” and China’s aid has no strings attached. More important, unlike Washington and its Western allies, China has never pushed its ideologies and values into others’ soil along with investment. At the same time, China is flush with cash, and Egypt will again be ripe for foreign investment when and if security is reestablished.
Perhaps, it is not problematic whether Washington’s worry is undue, or more specific, Egypt's shift toward China would complicate its relationship with the U.S. and U.S. policymaking in the Middle East. The crux is whether Morsi's new foreign policy tack would promise a more hopeful future for Egypt and its people.